"Patience as Method"——John Howard Yoder's Epistemology of Peace

According to Mennonite theologian John Howard Yoder, "peace" is true so much so that nonviolence is in fact itself an epistemology. Pacifism is not mere passive avoidance of violence but proactive peacemaking, i.e. it is about becoming a peaceable people initiating peace and reconciling with the Others. "The truth in Christ" requires that His gospel be received as good (and as news), without coercion and manipulation. Yet "reasoning", especially in the persuasive or argumentative mode, aims at being compelling and therefore can be controlling; in the pursuit of our will to truth, the agonistic tends to shade into the antagonistic. Yoder's proposal for an epistemology of peace tries to counter such epistemological violence and let the truth speak for itself. Three kinds of practice of patience as "method" are detailed: transtribal communication and conciliation (witness and reconceptualization); the Rule of Paul (open meeting and free dialogue); and the Rule of Christ (binding and loosing as fraternal admonition). As it turns out, patience is the only "method" that Christians can rely on in seeking and sharing truth timefully, vulnerably and agonizingly with others within or without the church